Monday evening I was in the Atlanta airport waiting to board my 10:35 p.m. flight to Panama City Beach. I’d been in Port Byron, Illinois, since Thursday visiting my daughter and her family. I was tired and knowing that even after I landed in Panama City Beach I still had a two hour drive to reach home was making me a little cranky.
As I sat at the gate I watched a frazzled mom trying to corral two young children, a girl who looked to be four, and her younger brother. The mom was at her breaking point. The little boy kept dashing away from her while his sister wasn’t much better. The girl child wasn’t running around, but she was noisy and annoying. Selfishly my thought was, “Please, oh, please don’t let this family be seated near me!”
The mom’s last nerve frayed past the breaking point when the little boy laughed at her attempts to get him to sit still. She lashed out and spanked him, and when that didn’t work, she spanked him again. He continued laughing.
I made eye contact with a woman seated near me, but while I remained frozen, she went to the mom and patted her on the shoulder then began to speak with the little boy to take some of the pressure off of the mom. It worked beautifully. The kids calmed down, and the mom relaxed.
After the gate attendant called for pre-boarding the mom and her children left to board the plane. I made a point of thanking the woman who’d gone to their rescue when she returned to her seat. What a wonderful gift she’d given to that mom.
When my group was called I got into line and was about to scan my boarding pass when I realized the gate I’d been waiting at was 27, the one for Nashville, Tennessee! I’d been so engrossed by the drama that I almost missed my own flight at gate 29. Thankfully, I made it on time. But also thankfully, I was fortunate enough to watch a beautiful act of compassion. I was in the wrong place at the right time.
(Note: I had a photo of the mom, her children, and their compassionate helper, but even though none of them were facing the camera I didn’t feel it was appropriate to share on here. I found the photo below on Pinterest in an article about a group of women who rallied around a mother under similar circumstances.)